PITTSBURGH (AP) – Six Milwaukee relievers picked up the slack when starter Junior Guerra’s return from the disabled list lasted less than four innings as the Brewers edged the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 on Friday night.
Guerra left after 70 pitches over 3 1/3 innings in his first start since going to the disabled list with right elbow inflammation on Aug. 8. Milwaukee’s bullpen, however, limited Pittsburgh to just two hits the rest of the way as the Brewers dealt the Pirates their fourth consecutive loss.
Blaine Boyer (2-3) pitched a scoreless fifth to pick up the win. Tyler Thornburg worked the ninth for his seventh save. Scooter Gennett drove in Milwaukee’s only run with an RBI-double in the sixth off Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon (3-4).
The Pirates swept four games from the Brewers in Milwaukee last weekend to bolster their playoff hopes but then dropped three straight to first-place Chicago and couldn’t even get a runner to third base at the beginning of a pivotal 10-game homestand.
Andrew McCutchen had three of Pittsburgh’s seven hits.
Guerra spent nearly a month on the shelf with elbow soreness and was hardly crisp while allowing five hits and two walks. He left with two on and one out in the fourth in favor of Barnes, who was also activated from the disabled list on Friday. Barnes got Jordy Mercer to fly out and struck out Taillon to end the inning.
Taillon was far more effective than Guerra, breezing through the first five innings. His only hiccup came when he hit Martin Maldonado leading off the sixth. Maldonado moved to second on a groundout and scored when Gennett’s drive to deep center was just out of McCutchen’s reach.
Taillon surrendered three hits and one run over six innings, striking out four without issuing a walk and needing only 76 pitches to get 18 outs.
Pittsburgh’s best chance to tie the game came in the eighth when Josh Harrison led off with a single. Carlos Torres tried to pick Harrison off first but the ball sailed past Hernan Perez. Harrison raced to second and kept on going but Perez threw a strike from across the diamond to third, where Jonathan Villar easily tagged out Harrison.
Pirates: P Gerrit Cole did some flat ground work on Friday as he continues his rehab from inflammation in his right elbow. Cole, on the DL since Aug. 25, is hopeful to return this season.
Ivan Nova will try to keep his Pittsburgh renaissance going when he makes his sixth start with the Pirates since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Yankees. Nova is 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA since the coming to Pittsburgh, including a 3-1 win over Milwaukee in his last start. Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson is still searching for the form he had in April and May. The right-hander is 2-10 with a 5.87 ERA in his last 16 starts dating to June 3.
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